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Heather Bogle slaying horrified the community

By Matt Westerhold • Updated Feb 24, 2019 at 10:56 PM

FREMONT — So much changed after Daniel Myers brutally killed Heather Bogle on April 10, 2015. 

Her young daughter lost her mother. Her family lost a beloved daughter, sister and best friend. Her friends mourned for months and years, trying to understand how such a senseless loss could happen, and who could have done it.  

The community was in shock, fearful and frustrated there seemed to be no progress finding her killer. 

The lives of three people — all young African Americans — also were forever changed after the detective investigating Bogle’s murder identified each of them as suspects in her death. Keyona Bor, one of the three, said she lost her job, her home and was bullied on the Internet in the four years since that happened.

The detective who named her a suspect — Sean O’Connell — has since acknowledged he provided the prosecutor false evidence against Bor and the others, a fateful decision that led to him being removed from his job and, eventually, sentenced to prison. 

O’Connell ignored legitimate information he received just days after Bogle’s body was found regarding Daniel Myers, who worked the same shift and the same line as Bogle at Whirlpool in Clyde. An informant said she was sure he was capable of committing such a heinous act. Myers, 49, had brutalized other women, the informant told O’Connell.

But the detective never followed up on the information, never contacted Myers, or interviewed anyone who worked with Heather at Whirlpool. Instead, he provided the prosecutor false evidence against Bor, and others “from people who were lying to him and he knew were lying to (him),” visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove said at his sentencing hearing in September.

GO TO JAIL 

Cosgrove sent O’Connell to prison for two years for falsifying his Bogle case file.

That’s not what he’d planned for his career in law enforcement. O’Connell wanted to be sheriff, and talked with his boss, former Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, about him stepping aside so O’Connell could become sheriff. And there was plenty of wrongdoing the detective knew about that might have made Overmyer think about the offer to walk away. The two had discussed it, and O’Connell contacted the county Republican party asking to be appointed sheriff when Overmyer resigned.

But fate intervened, and O’Connell did not get his dream job.

Overmyer, leader of the county drug crime task force at the time, was struggling with his own opiate addiction. When his doctors stopped writing him prescriptions and refused to give him refills, Overmyer began to steal drugs from lock boxes at area police stations.

The six police chiefs in the county at the time — Fremont Chief James White, Bellevue Chief Mark Kaufman, Gibsonburg Chief Paul Whitaker, Green Springs Chief Charles Horne, Clyde Chief Bruce Gower and Woodville police Chief Roy Whitehead — all learned in August 2015 that Overmyer was stealing the drugs, and they asked for an investigation.

But that probe also stalled, died on the vine for lack of followup. The chiefs grew frustrated. Nobody from the state attorney general’s office or the crime lab contacted them or gathered any evidence, for months after they reported the thefts.

Register reporters were asking questions and the chiefs agreed to meet to explain the situation. The state’s investigation of Overmyer and the stolen drugs was restarted in January 2016 after the newspaper reported about the meeting with the chiefs and their complaints that the Ohio attorney general’s office dropped the ball.  

Overmyer soon found himself turned out of office and in a prison cell. He was convicted on theft and drug charges in December 2017 and sentenced by Cosgrove to four years in prison.

 

CAPTURING A KILLER 

It would be more than two years after Bogle’s murder before Myers would ever be interviewed by police. 

Chris Hilton, a longtime commander with the Perkins Township police whose family home is in Sandusky County, was elected sheriff in November 2017, in part, because he promised he would make solving the Bogle homicide his No. 1 priority.  

Hilton and his investigators — detectives Major Nick Kotsopolous, Captain Zach Zender, and Kenny Arp and Chief Deputy Ed Hastings along with state agents Chris Hamburg, Ryan Emahiser and Lori Braunschwanger with assistance from the Clyde and Fremont police — quickly zeroed in on Myers after the Bogle investigation was restarted in January 2017, when Hilton took office.

Cell phone tower evidence, “pings” that can identify where a cell phone was located at certain times of the day, showed Bogle’s phone was in proximity to Myers’ trailer in the Emerald Estates mobile home park in Green Creek Township in the hours before her body was discovered.

They also had DNA evidence from under Bogle’s fingernails that was later shown to match Myers’ DNA. 

Myers was arrested and charged with Bogle’s murder on June 1, 2017. Last Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors that took the death penalty off the table. He received a life sentence plus 20 years with no chance of parole. Prosecutor Tim Braun presented evidence in gruesome detail during the sentencing hearing that showed Myers killed Bogle. 

 

FAMILY IMPACT

Carlie Fairbanks, victim advocate for the Sandusky County prosecutor’s office, read a statement on the behalf of Bogle’s mother, Renae McLaughlin, after Myers was sentenced. 

“I hope she haunts you for the rest of your days ... at least we can go on with our broken lives knowing you’ll never be free,” Fairbanks read from McLaughlin’s statement. “It makes me sick to know that you even had enough nerve to come to (Heather’s) funeral and show absolutely no remorse for what you did.”

Hilton spoke after the hearing and expressed relief that law enforcement worked together and found Bogle’s killer.

“A monster is put away for the rest of his life and a family can properly grieve and begin to remember appropriately the young woman they loved so much. Rest in peace Heather Bogle,” Hilton said.  

When investigators executed a search warrant at Myers’ home in the mobile home park days before his arrest, neighbors told Sheriff Hilton about a woman who died there in 2009, who shared a son with Myers. Her death was ruled a suicide, but the neighbors said they never believed she took her own life. Leigh Ann Sluder lived in a trailer Myers owned, and he was the person who discovered her body and called police. She had been shot and a rifle was found in the bed when her body was discovered. 

Detectives restarted the investigation of Sluder’s death, but did not present any evidence to a grand jury. A source close the the investigation told the Register prosecutors offered to take the death penalty off the table if Myers agreed to plead guilty to killing both Bogle and Sluder. The plea agreement struck Wednesday did not include charges related to Sluder’s death.

Leigh Ann Sluder’s death will be further reviewed, Braun said. 

“The case is under investigation,” he said. “It’s something we’ll pick up in the near future.”

* * *

TIMELINE

2015

April 9, 2015
Heather Bogle’s family reports her missing after she failed to pick up her daughter from school. 

April 10, 2015
Bogle’s bound body discovered in the trunk of her car parked outside a Clyde apartment building. She had been shot twice and her hairline had been cut back. Sheriff’s Detective Sean O’Connell takes lead in the investigation and tells Clyde police Chief Bruce Gower he thought it “might be a suicide.” 

April 21, 2015
“We’re really starting to feel more and more positive as things go on. We’re going to get somebody sooner rather than later, and that’s a good feeling,” Sheriff Kyle Overmyer told the Register, saying they were closing in on Bogle’s killer. 

April 25, 2015
Two Clyde detectives kicked off the case. “The reason given by Sean, apparently, was the comment I made in the Register,” Clyde police Chief Bruce Gower said. Both Gower and O’Connell told the media investigators weren’t anywhere close to making an arrest, contradicting Sheriff Overmyer’s own comments.

May 2015
O’Connell tells some media companies he’s identified three “persons of interest” in the case. All three are later cleared of any involvement and it was determined O’Connell provided false evidence to a prosecutor about them. Deputies executed two search warrants at Keyona Bor's home in the Somerton Apartments, the complex where Bogle’s body was discovered in her car. They also executed a warrant at another home where Bor stayed after fleeing the publicity caused by being identified as a suspect.

July 31, 2015
After battling the county prosecutor’s office in court seeking to obtain public records, the Fremont News Messenger obtained the autopsy report. It provided the following information: Bogle’s hair had been cut in a ragged, uneven pattern; she had defensive round bruises on the back of both of her hands; her ankles and wrists were bound; she died within minutes of being shot through the lungs; she had bruises on her face, jaw, eyes, forehead and legs; she had lacerations on her tongue and marks on her neck.

August 2015
Police chiefs discover that Sheriff Kyle Overmyer is taking drugs from drop boxes at police stations that residents use to safely discard unused, expired or other unwanted medications. The discovery is reported to the county Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt and a BCI agent is assigned to investigate.   

2016

Jan. 8, 2016
The six police chiefs tell the Register Overmyer was stealing drugs from drop boxes at police stations, and the state failed to properly investigate the complaint. The investigation by the state is restarted after the Register’s report.  

Jan. 14, 2016
Gibsonburg Mayor contends Sheriff Overmyer and his sister, Sandusky County clerk of courts Tracy Overmyer attempted to intimidate him at a Republican party function, urging him to drop the drug investigation of the sheriff.

February 2016
Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien appointed special prosecutor over the Overmyer drug investigation. 

March 8, 2016
Heather Bogle’s family grows frustrated with how Detective Sean O’Connell is conducting the investigation. Her brother, Josh Feasel, contends O’Connell lied to family members, refused to follow up leads and had cut them off from the investigation. “Nobody can even get a conversation out of the guy. He doesn't return phone calls,” Feasel said.

April/June 2016
Sheriff Overmyer and O’Connell engage in open warfare. O’Connell is cooperating with a special prosecutor and Overmyer likely would face a grand jury on drug and theft allegations. In June, Overmyer suspended O’Connell and ordered an internal investigation by an outside agency. The Lorain County Sheriff’s office investigated and determined O’Connell leaked confidential information and referred its report to Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt to determine if criminal charges should be filed against O’Connell. Stierwalt takes no official action and refuses to respond to questions about the referral. 

Aug. 23, 2016
Sheriff Overmyer is indicted on 43 criminal charges, including theft in office and drug counts. He’s suspended from office and jailed. His name remains on the election ballot as the Republican candidate for sheriff. 

September 2016
Detective O’Connell, whose been suspended since June, quits the sheriff’s office rather than face possible termination or other discipline for leaking confidential information. Stierwalt makes no decision about criminal charges.

Nov. 8, 2016
Perkins police Lt. Chris Hilton, a Townsend Township resident, is elected sheriff. Fremont attorney Tim Braun is elected county prosecutor, defeating Stierwalt. Both men win by large margins.

Dec. 13, 2016
Overmyer sent to prison. “What troubles the court, if you were just going to normal doctors and using drugs, doctor shopping, because of your drug issue, that is one thing. But you took the position of trust you were elected to and used that position for your own personal gain, while not only criticizing people but maligning them in public, intending to destroy their reputations. Every chief of police in this audience ought to be commended. They knew something was going on, and they took it seriously. As a law enforcement officer, you can use the badge either as a shield or as a sword. They used it as a shield. You used it as a sword,” visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove told Overmyer, handing him a four-year prison term.

2017

January 2017
Hilton takes office. “I want residents of Sandusky County to know we are not only involved, but we are also now the lead investigators on the Heather Bogle case with BCI assisting us.” 

May 27, 2017
Sheriff Hilton and his detectives executed search warrants at Emerald Estates mobile home park at 846 County Road 224, at properties owned by Daniel Myers. Hilton called it a “major breakthrough” in pinpointing the suspected killer. Residents there tell Hilton about a woman’s death in 2009 that was ruled a suicide but they believed she was murdered. Leigh Ann Sluder shared a child with Myers and she lived in a mobile home not far from Myers’ home. Myers discovered her body in a bed with a shotgun next to her. 

June 1, 2017
Sheriff’s deputies arrest Daniel Myers and charge him with murder in the death of Heather Bogle. The three people O’Connell falsely accused are cleared. 

July 13, 2017
Sheriff Hilton tells the Register investigators interviewed “numerous women” who told them Daniel Myers is a violent sexual predator. Prosecutor Braun later described the interviews. “Every one of them came into my office and told me, ‘but for the grace of God, I could have been Heather Bogle,’” Braun said.

Aug. 8, 2017
Henry County Prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers agrees to act as a special prosecutor over the investigations of Sean O’Connell. Up to six other prosecutors, including the Ohio attorney general’s office, had declined the job. 

Dec. 22, 2017
A grand jury returns a seven-count indictment charging Sean O’Connell with three counts of tampering with evidence and one count of unauthorized use the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway, the crime database. His indictment also included four misdemeanor charges of falsification, coercion, dereliction of duty and obstructing official business. He was arrested that afternoon and was held in the Erie County Jail over the holiday weekend before being released ORO.

Dec. 27, 2017
Judge Robert Hart recuses himself a day after he ordered O’Connell released from jail with no bond. In removing himself, Hart cited the rule that a judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. The move came after Hart was criticized for not stepping aside sooner, given his longstanding friendship with O’Connell.

2018

January 2018
A woman who worked with former detective Sean O’Connell as a confidential informant claimed she and O’Connell had sex together in his work cruiser while he was on duty, and that he used county money to pay off her back child support. After a four-month investigation, an Ashland County sheriff’s detective said he could not substantiate whether the two engaged in sexual activity and the payouts made to the woman matched a log O’Connell kept for giving cash to confidential informants.

July 30, 2018
O’Connell takes plea deal. 

Sept. 13, 2018
O’Connell tells judge his “primary goal and objective (was) to try to find those persons responsible for Heather’s murder.” The judge responded: “I don’t even know how you can say that. You didn’t follow several important leads. You relied on information from people who were lying to you and you knew were lying to you and still you put them in the report as being viable... Today’s the day of sentencing. Take him into custody.” O’Connell got two years in prison; six charges related to falsifying the investigation and another charge were all dropped as part of a plea bargain.

Oct. 15, 2018
Daniel Myers is rushed to ProMedica Memorial Hospital in Fremont “woozy and incoherent,” delaying a scheduled court hearing and leading to speculation he attempted to commit suicide.

Feb. 13, 2019
Myers pleads guilty in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court to murder charges, admitting he killed Heather Bogle. Prosecutor Tim Braun presented evidence in gruesome detail that showed he killed Bogle. Sluder’s death, which was ruled a suicide in 2009, remains under investigation. Officials said there’s been no request to change the cause of death listed on her death certificate from suicide to suspicious or undetermined.   

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